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James Brown closes ‘06-‘07 Distinguished Speaker Series

By Hannah Simpson
Staff Writer

Sports commentator James Brown told students during the final April 20 Distinguished Speakers Series that he had to learn the fundamentals of success in order to become a successful and recognized businessman.            

These fundamentals include good communication skills, dressing the part, punctuality, a hunger for knowledge, interpersonal skills, overcoming adversity and having fun.

"If you take those characteristics, root them in faith, you’ll be successful no matter what,” Brown said.            

Brown, a Harvard graduate and former NBA player, said it has been a difficult road living with the name James Brown, which he shares with the late “godfather of soul.”

Brown said he overheard a conversation among students at a dinner prior to the speech in which a student questioned if the administration realized that their guest speaker was deceased.            

Brown said good communication skills include a firm grasp of listening, speaking and writing.

Brown recalled a time when his pronunciation of a word was questioned on-air.            

“Now, I know that I could have reacted stereotypically and pulled out my switchblade,” Brown said.

Brown said that experience made him pay more attention to his speech.            

During his first job interview, Brown said he walked into IBM in a vest, suit coat and bowtie that were all different shades of blue, while sporting an unkempt afro.

"People make judgments based on how you look before you can even open your mouth,” Brown said.            

Interpersonal skills are important when developing leadership skills, Brown said, as well as working in diverse environments.

"I’ve long since gotten over having the name James Brown,” he said.            

Brown said that many experiences have shaped his career, including an incident of picking his nose while live on television and traveling with Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.

That’s a long way from not knowing what he wanted to do in college, Brown said. He said he had wanted to be an attorney and never dreamed he would become a sports broadcaster.            

Brown was the co-host of CBS Sports Saturday/Sunday and has worked with FOX Sports. He has been a commentator for the NBA finals, the NCAA basketball tournament, Super Bowls and the 1992 and 1996 Winter Olympics.

Currently, Brown broadcasts “The James Brown Radio Show” on Sporting News Radio, as well as is a correspondent for “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” Brown is a host for HBO, and the host of the nationally syndicated black talk show “America’s Black Forum.”


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